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the latter is more comic, its plot involving trickery and cunning rather than straightforward force.
Other early texts are dramatic pieces, the earliest being the fragmentary Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham (c. These are particularly noteworthy as they show Robin's integration into May Day rituals towards the end of the Middle Ages; Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham, among other points of interest, contains the earliest reference to Friar Tuck.
The only character to use a quarterstaff in the early ballads is the potter, and Robin Hood does not take to a staff until the 17th century Robin Hood and Little John. Holt that the Robin Hood legend was cultivated in the households of the gentry, and that it would be mistaken to see in him a figure of peasant revolt.
The political and social assumptions underlying the early Robin Hood ballads have long been controversial. He is not a peasant but a yeoman, and his tales make no mention of the complaints of the peasants, such as oppressive taxes.
In these early accounts, Robin Hood's partisanship of the lower classes, his Marianism and associated special regard for women, his outstanding skill as an archer, his anti-clericalism, and his particular animosity towards the Sheriff of Nottingham are already clear.
Little John, Much the Miller's Son and Will Scarlet (as Will 'Scarlok' or 'Scathelocke') all appear, although not yet Maid Marian or Friar Tuck.
From the 16th century on, there were attempts to elevate Robin Hood to the nobility and in two extremely influential plays, Anthony Munday presented him at the very end of the 16th century as the Earl of Huntingdon, as he is still commonly presented in modern times.
As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by 'Robin Hood games' or plays that were an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities.
The early ballads are also quite clear on Robin Hood's social status: he is a yeoman.Within Robin Hood's band, medieval forms of courtesy rather than modern ideals of equality are generally in evidence.In the early ballad, Robin's men usually kneel before him in strict obedience: in A Gest of Robyn Hode the king even observes that '' Their social status, as yeomen, is shown by their weapons; they use swords rather than quarterstaffs.It is not certain what should be made of these latter two absences as it is known that Friar Tuck, for one, has been part of the legend since at least the later 15th century where he is mentioned in a Robin Hood play script.In modern popular culture, Robin Hood is typically seen as a contemporary and supporter of the late-12th-century king Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry during the misrule of Richard's brother John while Richard was away at the Third Crusade.